It’s up to Barry Diller‘s company to chart a course for the Tina Brown-run print and Internet publication. The family of one-time audio pioneer Sidney Harman decided to pull back from the joint venture with IAC. Harman was actively involved in the operation, but he died in April 2011. As a result, “the Harman trust has indicated that it does not intend to make further capital contributions to the venture,” it told Reuters, which broke the story. Harman’s wife, former California Rep. Jane Harman, will remain on the board. The big question now is how long Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp will be willing to stick by Newsweek/Daily Beast. Word has it the board doesn’t like the business, although Diller’s control of 42.8% of the company votes means he usually gets what he wants. The print publication had an operating loss of about $39.5M in 2009; the Washington Post sold it in 2010 to Harman for $1 along with his assumption of liabilities. But its circulation has continued to fall: It was down 31.6% in 2010 and then 3.4% last year to 1.5M. Meanwhile, the ad-supported online publication is estimated to be losing about $10M a year.
IAC told Reuters that the publication is “one of the many small areas of investment for IAC and is not material to the overall business, which is largely driven by search and Match.” We’ll see whether the question comes up tomorrow when IAC talks to analysts following the release of its Q2 earnings. If things fall apart, there’ll be no need to worry about Brown. The former editor of The New Yorker has plenty of powerful pals who’ll make sure she continues to be a player on the media stage.
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